Thursday, November 27, 2008

Closing Time


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If the 2008 free agent market for closers were a street corner, it would be full of hookers. Easy Street would be absolutely flooded with streetwalkers looking to find a John for the upcoming season. Lady's of the night would peer into car windows that would stop by, while Johns on the other hand, would be looking for the most bang for their buck (literally).

Compared to 2007, there really is a surplus of relief pitchers this year. There also happens to be a lot of teams currently without a closer, so there are many options out there. Here is a Coles Notes version of closers out on the market and what they made this past season, thanks to Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Free Agents

Francisco Rodriguez: $10 million
Brian Fuentes: $5.5 million
Kerry Wood: $4.2 million
Trevor Hoffman: $13.5 million
Brandon Lyon: $3.125 million
Chad Cordero: $6.2 million

Each of these closers were given the boot by their respective teams, and now look to find a new home for 2009. Topping the list is K-Rod, who looks to make an ungodly amount of money with whatever team signs him.

Brian Fuentes on the other hand seems like discount compared to K-Rod; the equivalent of choosing President's Choice cola over Coke.

Kerry Wood and Trevor Hoffman both got the shaft from their teams, and it appears that Brandon Lyon lost his job to Chad Qualls.

Cordero is coming off of an injury plagued season, and is a huge gamble to any team that decides to take the risk of signing him.

Trade Bait

B.J. Ryan: $10 million
Jose Valverde: $4 million
J.J. Putz: $3.4 million
Huston Street: $3.3 million
Bobby Jenks: $0.55 million

Although all of these closers are still under contract, there have been rumblings that they all could be dealt to make room for cheaper replacements.

Since the Blue Jays already have a stacked bullpen, they could easily move Ryan to another team for an offensive upgrade, but finding a team to eat up his $10 million salary could be difficult.

Although Jose Valverde led the National League in saves the last two seasons, the Astros might trade him as a cost-cutting measure.

Putz finished 2007 as one of the top closers in the game, but now he finds himself among trade talks after injuries sidelined him for close to a third of the season.

The Rockies might be asking what the return policy is on Huston Street, because it looks like the want to ship him off after acquiring him on November 12th.

Because the White Sox are fans of trading just for the sake of trading, teams are kicking the tires on Bobby Jenks, even though is salary is a minuscule $550,000 dollars.

Teams who need a Closer

Detroit Tigers
Milwaukee Brewers
New York Mets
Los Angeles Angels

Many teams will be looking in-house to replace closers such as the Padres, Marlins, Athletics, and Diamondbacks. But there are the teams above that are in desperate need of a 9th inning man. The Tigers' and Brewers' closers Todd Jones and Solomon Torres retired, Billy Wagner from the Mets is on the shelf till 2010, and the Angels need to fill the void left by K-Rod.

In Conclusion ...

It's all about supply and demand in the free agent market. This year's crop happens to be very plentiful, so closers will probably not fetch as much money as they typically would. K-Rod must expect to receive a 5 year/75 million dollar contract, but he will likely be brought down to earth with his expectations. It seems like many teams are trying to find cheaper solutions within their own bullpens, rather than sign a pricey free agent closer like Francisco Rodriguez or Brian Fuentes.

On the street corner of free agency, teams might be looking to take Easy Street with a new closer, but that could cost them in the long run with a bad STD.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Blue Jays Sign New Outfielder


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I introduce you to Oscar Felinez, the newest outfielder for the Toronto Blue Jays. Felinez was highly touted in the often overlooked Feline League over in Indonesia. He will be a welcome addition to the team, and will likely platoon left field with Adam Lind.

I promise that I won't turn into one of those people who talk endlessly about their pets, but I couldn't help but post this after we brought our new cat home yesterday. It's just a coincidence that the last two posts have had pictures of cats, I assure you this blog is not turning into a online cat calendar.

I've decided that Oscar Felinez will unofficially be rally cat for the 2009 Toronto Blue Jays. We hope that he will help inspire many late-inning rallys next season.

I'm not turning into Angela from The Office, I swear.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Free to a Good Home


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After coming out of the free agent gate faster than Seabiscuit, A.J. Burnett is looking more and more like the cat at the animal shelter that nobody wants to take home. With the Yankees pulling back from a 5 year deal, and the Red Sox have not yet tabled an offer, where will A.J. end up?

The 2009 free agent market is so flooded with a surplus of players this year, that maybe Burnett is getting lost in the mix amongst Sabathia, Manny, Teixeira and others. The Yankees are also one of the teams in the hunt to get Jake Peavy from the grips of the Padres, so maybe they are occupied on pitchers other than A.J.

At this point, J.P. Ricciardi is probably counting stacks of Uncle Teddy's money and hoping that Burnett gets desperate and comes back to Toronto. It could very well happen - we all saw what happened last year with Alex Rodriguez. Most folks were 99 percent certain that he was on his way out of pinstripes, but then he got all weepy eyed and crawled back to Lord Steinbrenner. So it certainly can happen again with A.J.

Know knows ... Ricciardi could be bringing back the cat that ran away from home after all.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Remembering "Homer At Bat"


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After reading one of the most recent posts at the Tao of Stieb about the possibility that Ken Griffey Jr might be on J.P. Ricciardi's radar, I recalled his stint on the episode of the Simpsons "Homer at Bat". I'd have to say that it's one of my favourite Simpsons episodes of all time next to "Lisa the Vegetarian".

We learned that all that heckling really does affect a baseball player, Mr. Burns doesn't know what sideburns are, and that getting hit on the head counts as a basehit. So let's reminisce about how the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant's softball team of ringers suffered nine separate misfortunes, but still managed to be 1992 City Softball Champs.

Don Mattingly 1B: was kicked off the team after he refused to shave his sideburns. Then after he shaved his sideburns, Mr. Burns wouldn't let him on the team anyway.

Steve Sax 2B: is interrogated by Eddie and Lou after being pulled over, and never makes it to the game after being sentenced to 6 consecutive life sentences.

Ozzie Smith SS: disappears into the unknown after going into the Springfield Mystery Spot.

Wade Boggs 3B: is knocked unconscious after getting into a fight with Barney over who is England's greatest Prime Minister.

Mike Socia C: suffers from radiation poisoning after working too many hours at the power plant.

Jose Canseco LF: missed the game because he was too busy saving people and appliances from burning buildings.

Ken Griffey Jr CF: overdoses on nerve tonic and suffers an grotesquely swollen head.

Darryl Strawberry RF: does make the final game, but Bart's heckles undoubtedly affect him deep within emotionally.

Roger Clemens P: is convinced he is a chicken after being hypnotized by the team hypnotist.

This episode proves that you don't need a team of ringers to win a championship. Maybe the Steinbrenners can heed that advice with the Yankees. And just in case you want to hear the celebration song, it's posted below as well.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Quiet before the Free Agent Shitstorm


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So it's almost been one week of free agency, and we're still waiting for one of the big three (Sabathia, Teixeira, Manny) to find a home for the 2009 season. Now, we've learned that Sabathia won't make a decision until after finishing his thanksgiving leftovers. The Blue Jays are officially out of the Manny sweepstakes, and it looks like Teixeira will go wherever the hell he can get the most cash.

Although we've seen a few trades here or there, I'm still waiting for that first big off season signing to get the ball rolling on this free agent frenzy. Considering that J.P. said he won't really be in the mix, I am clinging to any sort of positive news looking into the 2009 season.

Part of looking forward to next season is being very open-minded about things. It can be very easy to be pessimistic and think that 2009 will only be worse for the Blue Jays, but there are a lot of possibilities. Despite the fact that the Yankees will sign some big guns in the arms race of the American League East, that doesn't necessarily guarantee success. After all, just look back at the 2008 Detroit Tigers, who many people picked early as World Series contenders.

So come on, somebody make a move already so we can enjoy some off season entertainment! Because frankly, the Wiser's is starting to wear off.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ricciardi not clowning around with Free Agents


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If MLB were a high school dance, the Blue Jays would be emo-kid in the corner drinking Wiser’s and watching everyone else have a great time out on the dance floor.

In other words, it looks like the Jays will not be getting involved in the free agent frenzy.

In an interview with Jays beat reporter Jordan Bastian, J.P. himself denied rumors that the Jays would be looking to sign a free agent big bat this winter. So you can pretty much forget about seeing Jason Giambi, Rafael Furcal, or Milton Bradley in a Blue Jays uniform next season. That’s really unfortunate, because now it looks like the tandem of Adam Lind and Travis Snider will be rocking the tandem DH spot next year.

Ricciardi didn’t say anything about adding another starting pitcher, but methinks that he doesn’t plan on picking up anybody in the Brad Penny, Randy Johnson, or Derek Lowe realm either. With that said, it looks like the only off-season acquisitions the Blue Jays might make are through trade. The all-seeing eye Tim at MLBTR noted that the Griffster thinks that the Beej, Johnny Mac, Lyle Overbay and Jason Frasor could be dangled as trade bait.

I like the Tao’s idea of trading for J.J. Hardy, because the Brewers are definitely in need of a closer after Solomon Torres split. We could swap Ryan and maybe another player like Jason Frasor for Hardy.

B.J. for J.J? I can see the annoying blog title posts already …

Sunday, November 16, 2008

C.C. Money Factory


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I promise, this will be the only C & C Music Factory reference this off season.

Can you believe that Lord of the Sith Hank Steinbrenner offered C.C. Sabathia somewhere in the ballpark of 6 years/$140 million dollars? As we wait for the free-agent shitstorm to fly, the Yankees did confirm that they offered Sabathia the richest deal in baseball history for a pitcher. Gee, it must be nice to throw that kind of money around when the Blue Jays probably won't even break a $100 million total payroll for 2009.

But if for some reason Sabathia changes his mind about the Yankees, I'm sure the Blue Jays can offer him all the Timbits he wants. Besides, C.C. looks like he really isn't worried about his donut intake anyway.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Halladay Wins Hearts, but not Cy Young


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He had us at the first pitch on opening day.

Start to finish this season, we knew that Roy Halladay would contend for the Cy Young award. But unfortunately, an anomaly like Cliff Lee came along this year and stole the spotlight. But at least there were 4 baseball writers of America that though Halladay did in fact deserve the award. Unfortunately, there were 24 writers that thought Cliff Lee was superior.

There were valid arguments on both sides. For Halladay, it was that he faced stiffer competition from opposing teams in the AL East. Halladay also pitched more innings, struck out more batters, and had more complete games. But in favour of Lee was his ERA, and win total. Obviously as a Jays fan, I am biased and think Halladay should win the Cy Young regardless. But Halladay's season this year was statistically better than the 2003 season in which he won the award.

It was good to see that Halladay did in fact place second in voting, because it was rumored that he might be left off the Top 3 voting all together. Some thought he might come behind a guy who only pitches an inning once every two days, or some guy who can barely get through the 5th inning most starts.

I don't want to take anything away from Cliff Lee's amazing season. He was very deserving of the award, but I don't think there's any way he will put up similar stats next season. So note to self when drafting for next year's Fantasy Baseball team, that you don't have Lee at the top of your pitchers prospects list. But whatever you do, make sure our good old boy Roy is at the top of your wish list.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Toronto Blue Jays Classifieds


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Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Best Moustaches in Baseball


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It seems so simple - just a grouping of hair below the nose. But to many men, it’s much more than that. It’s a symbol of manhood that transcends generations, races, and yes even sports. I am of course talking about one of the finest facial hair styles in history - the moustache.

Some of our favourite baseball players have had some iconic staches throughout the years, so it's very fitting that this month we take a moment to reflect on some of the greatest moustaches in baseball during Movember.

Movember was founded in 1999 by a bunch of Australian guys, and much like the moustache itself, Movember has grown into a incredible worldwide phenomenon. For the month of November, men are encouraged to grow a mo (which is Australian slang for moustache) to help to raise awareness of men’s issues such as prostate cancer.

There have been many men throughout baseball that have sported some pretty impressive mo's, so in honour of Movember, let’s look back at some of the best moustaches in baseball.

Randy Johnson

When he’s not taking out his frustrations on cameramen or hurling baseballs at innocent doves, Randy Johnson is coiffing his moustache. Not only has the Big Unit solidified his place in moustache history, but he also grows a pretty sick mullet too.







Dennis Eckersley

A sign of true commitment to a moustache, is sticking with it to the very end. Such is the case with Dennis Eckersley - he’s still sporting his stache today, even though he’s been retired for over 10 years. Eckersley also rocks a wicked mullet, but whatever you do … don’t tell him that.





Rollie Fingers

Not only was Fingers a pioneer in relief pitching, he became an icon in the facial hair department for his curly moustache. Looking at some of the old photos of Fingers, he could easily be mistaken for a Bond villain thanks to his very neatly-tailored yet eccentric moustache.



Don Mattingly

Mr. Burns may have ordered Don Mattingly to shave his sideburns on The Simpsons, but he sad nothing about his Tom Sellick-like moustache. Some may argue that the source of Mattingly's talent was his moustache, but we all know that it was in fact in his sideburns. So after Mr. Burns ordered him to shave them, it was all downhill from there for Mattingly.



Rod Beck

Much like list members Randy Johnson and Dennis Eckersley, Rod Beck will be well known for rocking the mullet/moustache combo. Beck passed away in 2007, but the legacy of his stache will live on forever.






Rich "Goose" Gossage

Here’s another Hall of Famer that is not only remembered for throwing high heat, Gossage might be better known for rocking a moustache that would make even Ron Jeremy stand at attention. Although over the years, Gossage’s stache transformed into a handlebar stache, and is starting to look more and more like Paul Sr. from Orange County Choppers.



Dave Stieb

It may have taken his legendary Jays pitcher 4 attempts to finally get a no-hitter, but Dave Stieb's moustache was always firing on all cylinders. There is a legend that in addition to his potent fastball, slider, and wicked curveball, Stieb also had a secret pitch called the "Stieb Stacheball".



Wade Boggs

Not only are there epic tales of Boggs’ ability to slam back Miller Lites, but he also cracked the Blue Jay Hunter’s top ten list of best moustaches in baseball. He might be a famed Yankee, but we have to give props that Wade Boggs has massacred thousands if not millions of beers thanks to the power of the stache.




So if you want to follow in the footsteps of some of the pioneers in baseball moustache history, make sure you ditch your razor for the rest of November and grow a moustache to participate in November. Then once we get into December, guys make sure you keep your wooly coat in check for the winter with a Philips Bodygroom. If you're a Wookie in human's clothing, check out
shaveeverywhere.ca for more tips on trimming that holiday sweater. I even tried out the bodygroom myself, and will be donating the accumulated hair to make several quilts for those who are less fortunate.

Thanks to all our players featured in the best moustaches of baseball, and for opening doors for other acceptable forms of facial hair in baseball such as the mutton chops, the soul patch, and the goatees. Be sure to vote over on the poll in the sidebar for your favourite moustache in baseball. Keep those razors sharp, and those staches clean!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

No Glove, No Love


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Unfortunately for another year, the Toronto Blue Jays were overlooked in the American League Gold Glove Awards. Both Tori Hunter and Ichiro Suzuki snagged their 8th straight award, while Carlos Pena, Dustin Pedroia, Michael Young, and Joe Mauer were all first-time winners.

I really don't have any rebuttal against any of the winners, but I think out of all the players on the team, Lyle Overbay made the strongest case for an award. Unfortunately his 5 errors this season simply don't add up to Carlos Pena's single error. Joe Inglett probably made a good case as well, but unfortunately he's not really a big enough name for players and coaches to put on their ballot. Hence why John McDonald got robbed of a Gold Glove Award last year. J-Mac had the golden touch, but he just didn't have the star quality that the American League knew about.

In a new addition to the blog, Blogger has added a new "reaction" function for posts. This gives you the opportunity to give feedback on each post, and you can vote below on each article. I'm really grateful to everyone who reads this blog, so any feedback is really appreciated ... even if it's negative. Thanks so much for reading!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Time to Hand Out Some Hardware


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Today, the MLB announced the winners of the 2008 NL Gold Glove Awards. The Gold Gloves are a little tricky, because they are not based solely on fielding percentage (which you think it would be based on). Winners included Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Nate McLouth and Greg Maddux. I've always wondered why they even give Gold Glove awards to pitchers ... it's not like hitters have a chance to win the Cy Young award.

Tomorrow, MLB will release its winners of the AL Gold Glove Awards. I figure the only player on the Jays that has a legitimate shot of winning one is recent tradebait Lyle Overbay. He posted a pretty respectable .997 fielding percentage with 155 assists in 2008.

More hardware will be handed out this December with the 2008 This Year in Baseball Awards. Fans can now vote online in categories covering all positions, as well as Play of the Year, Odditiy of the Year, and best Postseason Moment. Of course, our good old boy Roy is nominated for Starting Pitcher of the Year, and Scotty Downs for Setup Man of the Year. Be sure to vote often, so those Massholes and Yankee fans don't flood the voting.

Now for some awards of the follicle kind, Mop Up Duty did a great article today on The Best Hair in Blue Jays History. All your favourite coifs are there, including The Grube's, Stieber, Zauny's, and the Beej. As a man who has come to grips with the fact that my hair is retreating, I found it enjoyable to live vicariously through the famous hairdo's from former/current Blue Jays. In related news, I will be posting an article about the Best Moustaches in Baseball sometime next week. It will feature the most famous staches from players past and present - and yes, Rollie Fingers will be included.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Surprise! Burnett Opts Out


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After originally saying he would take a few extra days to make his decision, Jordan Bastian reports that A.J. Burnett has in fact opted out of the final two years of his contract with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Although Burnett opted out, his agent Darek Braunecker says that the Blue Jays are still among to the top suitors to sign A.J., along with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Burnett's hometown Orioles. Though, I think the Blue Jays idea of a "competitive offer" is somewhere in the 3 year/$45 million dollar range. Obviously that pales in comparison to the money that Darth Steinbrenner can offer to him.

It will be interesting to see what the first big move will be in the free-agent market, because usually the first big-name signing dictates how the rest of the free-agent season will proceed. If it starts off with a ridiculous offer for C.C. Sabathia with something like 6 years/$125 million dollars, then Burnett will certainly get a big piece of the free-agent pie.

In other Jays news, the team picked up Angel Sanchez, Kelvin Jimenez, and Les Walrond ... which actually sounds like 2/3 of a protection ring for the Blue Jays moreso than waiver wire pickups. With these moves, it demonstrates more of J.P. Ricciardi's "throw shit at a wall, and hope something sticks" plan.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Burnett's Final Hat Tip


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In less than 48 hours, we will learn if A.J. Burnett will or will not opt out of his contract with the Jays (or is is 47 hours ... this Daylight Savings Time thing is fucking everything up. Stupid farmers).

Anyway, unless Burnett suddenly decides that his affliction with Roy Halladay is more important that making a ton of money on the free-agent market, we will most likely see A.J. walk away from the final two years of his $55 million dollar deal.

You can cross Mike Jacobs off the Jays DH wish list, as he was traded to the Royals. The latest buzz from the blogosphere is that the Blue Jays might be after the Royals Billy Butler. His stats are respectable, but nowhere close to what the team needs in the way of a "big bat".

The Blue Jays also picked up the option on Rod Barajas' contract for the 2009 season. No surprise there, but the only remaining question in the catching department is who will back up Barajas since it looks like Gregg Zaun is out the door?

Well, if Zaunie fails to make it back to a major league team next year, maybe he could be the next goalie for the Los Angeles Kings. Zaun faced off against Nick Kypreos in a 10-shot shootout, and amazingly Zauner managed to stop one of Kippers wrist shots on his glove side. Considering that Zaun had only ever skated twice before this competition, I'd say that's pretty impressive.

Free Agent season is now underway, with many of the big names like Manny, Tex, and CC hitting the open market. All I can say is that J.P. Ricciardi better stay the fuck away from Ken Griffey Jr ... we don't need another Frank Thomas case on our hands again.

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